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Archive for March, 2014

Stats It: Byrd Can Help Phillies Outfield

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, March 31, 2014 08:30 PM Comments: 1

On Philly.com I host I web series called Stats It. In this episode, I break down the Phillies outfield and how they’ll need to turn it around big time – which they did in the opener against the Rangers, at least for one day.




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Phillies Win Wild Opener, Beat Rangers with Two Touchdowns

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, March 31, 2014 05:53 PM Comments: 23

Asche had a bash. (MLB).

It was a crazy afternoon in North Texas.

The Phillies cracked 17 hits and added six walks, beating the Rangers 14-10, scoring the most runs on Opening Day since 1900.

——————

We’ve Got the Runs

-Offensively challenged is a term I would use to describe the Phillies during the last few seasons. Since the start of 2012, the Phils reached the 10-run plateau only 11 times. Since 2011, they’ve scored 14 or more runs in a game just four times. Other fun-with-numbers: It took the Phillies 81 games to reach double digits last season, and of course, just one this season.

-Marlon Byrd and Jimmy Rollins both homered. It’s been a long, long time since that’s happened.

-The second inning was one of the best innings by the Phillies I’ve seen in ages. They walked three times, hit a bunch of balls hard, and ended it with six runs. According to my colleague Corey Seidman, the Phillies walked three times in an inning only six times last year. Jimmy Rollins helped by hitting his 200th career bomb, a grand slam, in the frame. They’ll need many more innings like that this year if they want to compete.

-Rollins also became just the 10th player in major league history to reach 200 homers and 400 stolen bases. Is he Hall of Fame worthy?

-Ryan Howard struck out three times, but overall I thought he looked fairly comfortable in the box. Good to see him collect two hits in his first game of the year. Cody Asche went yard and collected two hits. Ben Revere smacked three hits and knocked in three runs.

Not a Pitchers Duel

-Cliff Lee was not sharp at all, yet got a victory. Honestly, he was throwing a lot of junk up there, which is very unlike the normally-crisp hurler. Lee allowed eight runs on 11 hits in five innings, just the fourth time in Cliff Lee’s fantastic career that he allowed eight runs or more in a game. Probably not an issue moving forward – a lot of guys get shelled in Arlington – but disheartening out of the gate nonetheless.

-Maybe overlooked – or maybe not – was the fact that the Phillies got a gift by not having to face Yu Darvish, the AL Cy Young runner-up last season. Tanner Scheppers stepped in, and the Phillies offense took full advantage.

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One Man’s MLB Predictions for 2014

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, March 31, 2014 12:13 PM Comments: 8

To have something to look back on when I’m incredibly wrong, I’m leaving my thoughts on the 2014 season on paper (or the internet equivalent of that). So, here is what I think happens in ’14.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:
-Nationals 94-68
-Cardinals 92-70
-Dodgers 97-65
-Pirates 90-72 (WC)
-Reds 87-75 (WC)

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamonbacks
Cy Young: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
ROY: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
-Rays 94-68
-Indians 91-71
-Rangers 91-71
-A’s 89-73 (WC)
-Red Sox 88-74 (WC)

MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
Cy Young: Chris Sale, White Sox
ROY: Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees

PLAYOFFS:
-Pirates over Reds (WC)
-Pirates over Nationals (NLDS)
-Cardinals over Dodgers (NLDS)
-Cardinals over Pirates (NLCS)

-A’s over Red Sox (WC)
-Rays over A’s (ALDS)
-Rangers over Indians (ALDS)
-Rays over Rangers (ALCS)

-Rays over Cardinals (WS)

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Gameday 1: Phillies vs. Rangers

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, March 31, 2014 11:56 AM Comments: 87


Philadelphia Phillies (0-0) at Texas Rangers (0-0)

Starting Pitchers:
PHI: Cliff Lee
vs.
TEX: Tanner Scheppers

Time: 2:05, The Ballpark in Arlington
TV: CSN
Weather: Cloudy/windy, 81
Media: Twitter and Facebook

A Note for Tonight: 

It’s Opening Day for the Philadelphia Phillies. Hope springs eternal with the first day of the year. Everyone is a contender, on even ground. But the Phillies will have their work cut out for them in three games with the Rangers to open the season. The good news is they won’t see Yu Darvish. The bad news is that Rangers offense is still loaded, now featuring Prince Fielder and Shin Soo-Choo. As for the Phillies, they’ll have to break the bats open and keep pace with Texas from day one if they hope to leave Arlington with a series win.

Let the games begin.

Lineup: 

CF Revere / SS Rollins 2B Utley / 1B Howard / RF Byrd / DH Brown / C Ruiz / 3B Asche / LF Gwynn Jr.

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Opening Week Soundtrack: Goin’ Down to Laurel

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, March 31, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

With expectations all over the map for the 2014 Phillies, I will attempt to match up some songs with the varied expectations for the Phillies. Today’s song, Goin’ Down to Laurel by Steve Forbertis about the resigned optimist, the blues signer that carries on their day with a smile.

As some may know, I am an avid yard saler, searching for bargains on numerous things, including vinyl records. One of my favorite vinyl finds was the debut album of folk-rock artist Steve Forbert. Forbert was one of the last of of a run of folkies that had been labeled “the Next Bob Dylan”. Forbert was a thoughtful young man from Meridian, Mississippi that would succeed almost in spite of the tag, hitting it big with his 1980 tune Romeo’s Tune. Previous to Romeo’s Tune was his 1977 debut album, Alive on Arrival.

A masterwordsmith, Forbert was careful in his selection of his words on the record’s opening track, Goin’ Down to Laurel. Laurel, MS, the town referenced in the song, was founded as a lumber town in the 1880s and many of its residents (28.9%) struggle with poverty. But that matters not to Forbert, who is returning to his home state. This song is for the resigned optimist, a category I believe Ruben Amaro Jr. and many fans, including myself, fit in to. This song is a reminder that professional baseball is fun, the Phillies are fun, and that baseball, no matter how bad, is something we all love. As Steve Forbert says “love’s a funny state of mind”.

This year will be full of reserved, yet wild and crazy, moments, which is sort of how the offseason went. I chose this song to kick of the series because Forbert’s lens of youth gives an honest depiction of the situation he is headed into. For the first time in the last three seasons, Amaro is giving his most honest assessment of the situation and there are some parallels between Forbert’s Mississippi and Amaro’s Phillies. Despite his honest approach, Amaro’s guarded and cautious optimism still comes through in his interviews.

After all: every Spring brings hope eternal. That’s the saying, right?

Continue reading Opening Week Soundtrack: Goin’ Down to Laurel

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Phillies Nation Roundtable: 2014 Predictions

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, March 30, 2014 08:59 PM Comments: 32

A few of us agree that Utley will have a pretty good year. After that, we’re all over the place with where the Phillies will finish.

It’s that time of year again – less than 24 hours from the first pitch of Phillies baseball, the staff at Phillies Nation has put together their Phillies’ predictions for the upcoming season. They range from the optimistic (Kenny) to the downright awful (me). In order from most positive to negative, here are our predictions for the 2014 season.

Kenny Ayres: The Phillies will struggle for the first month and a half, but a combination of improved health and leadership from Howard, Utley and Rollins on offense will spark the team to an 88 win season.

Pat Gallen: Too many things have to go right for the Phillies to grab a spot in the postseason. I’m with many others who don’t believe the Phillies can legitimately contend. But I do think they can hang around enough to win 80 games, finishing third in the division, missing out on the wildcard by 7 games.  I see the Nats running away with the division winning 94 games.

Jay Floyd: The Phillies will struggle to crack 80 wins this season.  The reputations and past performances of legendary Phillies names that got them to five consecutive MLB playoff tournaments will not be enough to carry this offensively-strapped team into a postseason.  Prediction: 78-84.

Eric Seidman: The Phillies will play better than most expect them to, for a while, enough to not trade away Cliff Lee and others, but an injury in the second half will lead them to lose a lot down the stretch. They’ll finish 76-86, even thought they hovered over .500 for most of the year.

Pat Egan: The Phillies lineup won’t perform nearly as poorly as most are expecting. Healthy seasons from Utley, Howard, and a full season of Revere will keep the offensive numbers respectable, but an improved Marlins team, along with a bounce-back year from the Nationals, will see the Phillies win 74 games & finish 4th in the division.

Don McGettigan: I think this season has the potential to be a complete disaster. The Phillies will be dominated in their own division, fight for 4th place, and finish with a record of 70-92. Cliff Lee gets dealt, Ryan Howard hurts something again, and Ruben Amaro Jr is fired by the end of the season.

Ian Riccaboni: The Phillies will get off to a slow start. Even though the team will be healthy for a majority of the year, they will never compete. Chase Utley will have his last great season, Jimmy Rollins will return to 2012 form, and the young bullpen will become a strength but it won’t be enough to overcome deficits everywhere else. The Phillies will win 64 games and be sent to the basement when the Mets win 68 and the Marlins surprise with 76 wins. The Nats run away with the division while the Braves, hamstrung by injuries, finish a very distance second.

 

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Report: Jimmy Rollins May Miss Opening Day

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, March 30, 2014 04:55 PM Comments: 18

According to reports, shortstop Jimmy Rollins did not fly to Arlington with the Phillies for Opening Day as he and his wife are expecting their second child. Jayson Nix would likely be the Opening Day shortstop if Rollins is not available.

Best of luck to the Rollins family!

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Minor League Roster Announcements

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, March 30, 2014 04:15 PM Comments: 0

JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd

As the 2014 season draws near, rosters for the Phillies’ minor league clubs have begun to surface.

The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws will feature the return of last year’s top draft selection SS J.P. Crawford.  Local NJ product Mark Leiter Jr., who made his pro debut last year, will return to the Claws as well.

The team’s outfield will be made up of 2011 top pick Larry Greene Jr., 2012 2nd rounder Dylan Cozens, well-regarded youngster Carlos Tocci as well as Samuel Hiciano.

Joining Crawford in the infield will be Andrew Pullin, Zach Green, Wilmer Oberto and Robinson Torres.

The team’s backstops will be two Velezuelans Gabriel Lino and Willians Astudillo along with Jose Mayorga of Panama. Continue reading Minor League Roster Announcements

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John Mayberry and Wasted Resources

Posted by Eric Seidman, Sun, March 30, 2014 02:29 PM Comments: 26

Back in December, I argued against tendering a contract to John Mayberry, suggesting that his salary outweighed his projected contributions. Mayberry was worth rostering when he made the league minimum and exhibited upside, but he was well past both points. There was no risk to letting him go, because despite his athleticism and versatility, he had been a replacement-level player for two straight seasons. Replacement-level players should not be guaranteed $1.5 million on a salary-strapped team.

Over 2012-13, Mayberry logged 863 PA and hit .237/.294/.393, with a -1 baserunning mark and a -14 fielding rating. He was worth -0.3 WAR in that span. While injuries unfairly forced him into a larger role — a good chunk of his negative fielding rating is attributable to his playing out of place in CF and only 288 of those 863 PA were against lefties — he is ill-equipped for long-term duty. His .337 wOBA against lefties since 2012 wasn’t all that special either.

Adding fuel to the fire is that the Phillies stumbled upon a clear-cut replacement for Mayberry in a player who also happens to be the son a famous outfielder: Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Gwynn lacks power but literally does everything else better than Mayberry at a fraction of the price. Even if the Phils were unsure of whether Gwynn — who wasn’t in the majors in 2013 and had a few weak offensive seasons before that — would be an upgrade over Mayberry, they had enough of a book on Mayberry to know that a replacement-level outfielder would be as good or better than Mayberry for much less money.

Continue reading John Mayberry and Wasted Resources

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Phillies Bench Still a Major Concern

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, March 29, 2014 12:09 PM Comments: 30

Hernandez gets a shot on the roster. (Photo: Jay Floyd)Wil Nieves, Cesar Hernandez, Jayson Nix, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr. It is this group of men that make up the Phillies opening day bench. And it’s an area of concern.

Ruben Amaro stated Saturday that the Phillies no longer have a group of starters that can be called upon to play 162 games. Bench players will get many chances to fill in for the likes of Rollins, Utley, and Howard. But they’ll be leaning on players who have major warts.

Wil Nieves is a career .242 hitter that has never eclipsed 250 plate appearances in a season and is 36 years old.

Cesar Hernandez has just 131 career plate appearances.

Jayson Nix has played for five organizations in six seasons accumulating a .218 career average and .290 on-base percentage. He’s not known as a top defender, either.

Tony Gwynn Jr. has a high-water mark of .270 with the Padres in 2009. He is 31 years old and is a 6.8 WAR player over parts of seven season in the majors.

John Mayberry Jr. may have the best resume of the bunch posting a 162-game average of 17 homers and 55 RBI. However, Mayberry is a 1.1 WAR player over parts of five seasons in the majors.

There is no go-to bat, no one to lean on heavily should a starter go down with injury, which seems to be a given at some point this year. And that’s a problem.

Freddy Galvis will return at some point after he is cleared to play following a MRSA infection, but he’s no sure thing either. Darin Ruf brings a power source from the reserves, but isn’t a good defender, especially in the outfield. Nix gets a role on the team for now because of his ability to play shortstop. Do you trust Nieves as a full-time starter if Ruiz gets the injury bug?

The Phillies needed to reinforce the bench because of their injury-prone starters and they’re left with an underperforming crew that brings more questions than answers.

 

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